Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

My New Role- Questions


#1

Bear with me readers, I’m totally new in figuring out my role…

From the perspective of a visiting sibling: afflicted family member living with family members who know there’s a mental issue but didn’t do their homework to know further on how to communicate and deal with the member who has hallucinations until that person went into complete isolation for long time.

My question, me as the visiting sibling, when can I remind this family member that her hallucinations might be the reason that led her to go into complete isolation and that life can be better and there’s hope? Because once I wrote her a letter saying that I can take her to a doctor and life can be beautiful again and she kicked me out… I mean will my relationship with her be just hi, I love you, gifts, cooking and cleaning for her while I’m there and that’s it?!


#2

In all honesty, there will be no way to define your relationship with your family member until you actually visit and assess it in person. With mental illness it is an ever changing canvas even if some symptoms persist. If the rest of the family as you said haven’t done their homework so to speak that makes it a bit more challenging (in my opinion) I would gently try to enlighten your family that is the caregivers to NAMI and their resources and free classes and maybe let them know about the book by Xavier Amador entitled “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help”. The care giving part of your family may not want help or advice either-or maybe they will.

Aside from that I would try to approach your sibling without any preconceived ideas or expectations. Just a meet and greet to start and then see what he or she feels comfortable with. It could be just a walk or watching a favorite TV show or sharing a simple meal. Even good things like gifts and helping and cleaning etc… can be stressful for the ill person, (my sister is like that)

I would ask if she or he wants the help and try to go with what they say unless it affects health or safety.

Stress makes symptoms worse. Unfortunately it is sometimes hard to see what the ill person’s stressors are until they happen. Often what stresses them out would not phase us at all, their brain is operating so differently than ours. If it were me I would consider my first visit a kind of subtle fact finding mission of sorts, no expectations, just a friendly visit…quiet and understated, maybe one small useful gift, a favorite food or drink maybe,or a favorite dvd or CD if that applies.

Conversationally I would try to keep questions at a minimum and try to just “be” with your sibling and quietly observe how they react and respond to their environment and you being there, where their focus is or isn’t and their body language. Maybe follow their lead if they come up with a good way to spend your time together.

That is my best advice, then on future visits you can make changes as needed or do the same thing again just to get a better overview of set behaviors and ones that seem to change often…anyway, good luck with your visits, I hope it all goes really well.


#3

Most likely, if it IS sz, this unfortunately is a lifelong change your family member has had. Isolation is perhaps going to be ongoing for years. Probabilities lie 55% with your family member not ever being able to recognize that they are ill (anosognosia). Since you don’t live near, and can rarely visit, you are limited in what you can do. Trying to get those family members who are daily caregivers to learn more about the illness is probably the best thing to do. Can the daily caregivers go to a NAMI meeting? The 12 week class is best, but one meeting is a start.